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Free Pacifica
FreePacifica, Document Archive
Restoring Pacifica as a DemocraticForum
Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica

The Theft of Pacifica
The Union (UE)

Audio and/or Video
MPEG videos from radio4all
Audio Archive 96-99
Restructuring the Pacifica Governing Board, 1999 (audio)
Last minutes of live air at KPFA, 7/16/99 (audio)
On-air Coup at WBAI - 12/23/00 (audio)
On-air Attack on Amy Goodman -1/15/01 (audio feed)

News Articles and Other Materials
COUNTERPUNCH on Pacifica- Cockburn& StClair
SF Bay GuardianKPFA Page, 1999
Call for resignation of Pacifica Leadership - SF Chronicle- 7/17/99
KPFA lockout radicalizes Berkeley- SF Chronicle- 7/17/99
The lawsuit against Pacifica, filed on 7/16/99
Free Speech Movement KPFA links, photos & coverage
Pacific attempts to consolidate power in Board
Union Busting at Pacifica
Union Busting at Pacifica II
Race and Power at Pacifica - Cockburn & St. Clair
Democracy Under Attack at PACIFICA
Last modified 06/29/2001

Pacifica was founded in 1949 by Lewis Hill and a group of Pacifists/Anarchists. Recognizing that commercial radio inhibits the free and open exchange of information, they created a listener sponsored alternative. 'When we have a radio station', said Hill, 'fully supported by subscribers who have not responded to a special gift offer, who are not participating in a lottery, who have not ventured an investment at 3 percent, but who use this means of supporting the values that seem to them of basic and lasting importance---then we will have more than a subscription roster. It will amount I think to a new focus of action or a new shaping influence that can hardly fail to strengthen all of us.'

Can such an enterprise survive in an environment that does not support self-determination and grass-roots democracy? Back in 1967, Paul Dallas, KPFKA's General Manager and Program Director at the time, put his finger on the critical issue, one that continues to be at the core of KPFA's difficulties today, more than thirty years later -

The problem has its roots in the structure of the Board of Directors. Brilliant men, motivated by noble ideals, need that spark of challenge which is struck by their being held accountable. In an atmosphere devoid of potent criticism and loyal opposition, minds grow old and fervor becomes jaded. Reform is necessarily an external force. When good, grey men sit around a table congratulating themselves, approving of themselves, and applauding their own devotion, it becomes a time for warm milk and graham crackers. Only on special occasions is a little sherry served; and then it is more often sniffed at than tasted. Pacifica needs lusty men and women to guide it; radicals prodding conservatives; youth nipping at the heels of age; wisdom tempering impatience. But even if this mix could be achieved, it would soon wither and grow dull if faced with nothing more stimulating than impotent critics. Today, to its own deterioration, the Board holds the subscribers to the Pacifica ideals in a web of impotence. Unfortunately, they are abetted in this by many of the subscribers. [For more]

Dallas also wrote of the gag orders established by the Pacifica Board, its strong opposition to elected governance, and its demonization of community groups calling for democracy. 'Until [this] problem of governance is addressed,' say commentators on the present situation at Pacifica, 'and structures are put in place for open and accountable decision making, we will fight the same battle again and again'.

The present crisis at KPFA and BAI must first and foremost be seen as the result of a deliberate, calculated attack on grass-roots democracy. Pacifica is attempting to wrest control from the community on which it is founded by consolidating power in its National Board of Directors. This is the same strategy that has been successfully used in recent years at progressive colleges to undermine participatory democracy, usurp critical decision-making processes, and institute regressive educational policies.

Using a similar strategy, Pacifica is seeking to consolidate and centralize control in their National Board of Directors. By making it impossible for local advisory board members to participate on the National Board, and by giving the National Board sole control over the appointment of new members, they are attempting to systematically decrease accountability to the community, hoping thereby to weaken resistance to future changes that they have in mind. Amongst these, COUNTERPUNCH argues, is Pacifica's ultimate goal - to sell some or all of the 5-station network's assets, worth some $500 million.

Pacifica is also participating in the same divide-and-conquer tactics that have been part of the game plan of administrators dismantling progressive colleges -

  • union-busting tactics;
  • gag orders preventing news personnel from reporting on the situation at PACIFICA, backed up by
  • egregioius staff firings and intimidation; and,
  • an overall attempt to change the organizational culture. 'Financial concerns' are raised in order to legitimate a shift toward a culture utilizing common corporate practices that do not honor the democratic values on which free, listener-sponsored radio is founded.

Any answer to the present crisis at Pacifica must include a solution to the fundamental concern that Dallas raised - the problem of governance. The Board itself must be structured in a manner consistent with the principles of participatory democracy. Anything less than that is unsatisfactory, in that it builds into the decision-making structure the potential for future takeovers by the board, similar to the one currently being experienced.